Sunday, February 14, 2016

Close Encounters of the Costa Rican Kind

Jonah loves to be in character and he did a great job during the visit.  He and these two-toed sloths got along great.

We took the opportunity to visit a sloth sanctuary.  We learned some very interesting things about this odd creature.  Our guide first wanted to emphasize that sloths do everything in an effort to conserve energy.  It reminded me of the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where poor little Charlie Bucket walks extra slow so that it didn't take as much energy.  For sloths, it's their whole system that runs slow.  It takes a leaf an entire month to go from in the mouth to out the other end.  They spend their whole life up in the trees.  They only come down once a week to do their business and when they do they loose 10 to 12 percent of their whole body weight.  Costa Rica has two types of sloths.  The world knows them as two-toed and three-toed, but at the sanctuary they like to differentiate by fingers because they all have three toes, it's the fingers that are the different numbered digits.

We got to go to the nursery and see some of the babies.  The most interesting
thing was when the guide pulled back the hair of the sloth so we could see it's ear.
It was a lot like a mix of a mouse and a human, soft and pink, fairly large, and fleshy.
The Sanctuary is place where they rescue injured
sloths.  This three fingered lost an arm from a
power line.  
Sloths live about 30 years.  This baby sloth,
Buttercup, started this family in the sloth saving
 business 18 years prior.  (above w/Tessa, and below)

Tessa, "We went to the sloth sanctuary it had a sloth that was taking it's bathroom break!!!  We saw five sloths then the babies.  I saw it's ear!!!  We went on a boat, we saw three sloths, monkeys, and birds.  A monkey even pooped!  We saw Buttercup and I love her!!!"

After our time with the sloths we hoped on a little boat and a guide took us through some river channels.  The jungle is a beautiful and foreboding place.  At the very beginning he took us over by the edge of the river along some dense grass that was about three feet tall.  I felt so pleased with myself because I had actually spotted a sloth in the wild (they are masters of camouflage and extremely difficult to see) and we were all looking up at it.   The guide then directed our attention to the grass immediately below us where a five foot caiman (related to alligators and crocodiles) was hidden.  Yikes!  That's what is creepy about the jungle, you can be right on top of something and not know it is there.  Once he saw we spotted him he lurked down and disappeared among the plants and water.  As we continued we saw lots of birds, baby caiman, bats, and a large troop of howler monkeys.  We knew there were howlers around because their howl is crazy, eerie, and distinct.  It woke us up our first morning on the Caribbean about five am.  They use the sounds of the howlers as the roars for the T-Rex in the Jurassic park movies and with good reason.  To us it sounded like some crazed group of wild wolves.  The other funny thing about howler monkeys is they have a nasty habit of throwing their poo at whatever is below them that they don't like.  We didn't believe it until we heard a splash and saw a distinctly deficated clouded patch of water just five feet from our boat.  Time to move on, time to get going.
We spotted this sloth in a palm tree at our
favorite beach, Punta Uva.
While we were there it climbed down and moved to the next tree.  Whole trip about 45 minutes.

A two fingered enjoying a snack.

I went to go up our stairs one evening and just about fell back down them when I opened the door to find this frog staring at me with his giant round eyes.  Finally, we'd found a red eyed tree frog!  He leapt right onto my face, gratefully I still had glasses and then he hopped onto each of the girls.  His long skinny legs could give him quite the force and accuracy.  

One day Tessa reported finding a "bird" in the bedroom her and Max were sharing, but every time they tried to show me it was gone.  Two days later I finally get a glimpse of the bird and had to tell them it was no bird, but rather a bat!  No more kids sleeping in that room!  Finally on day four it had weakened enough that Aaron caught it with a towel an released it outside.  Here it is hanging on the wall, it flew away that night, no harm done.  The next time we had one in the room, Maggie caught it the first day.  She has an amazing way with animals.  This bird with a needle sharp beak flew in and perched on the pulley line Max had built.  Maggie simply walked up to it and slowly wrapped her hands around it.  Lovely.

A cool moth, looked exactly like a leaf!
Leaf-cutter ants seem to never tire of marching back and forth
with good sized leafy chunks, and we never tire of seeing them.